June in Rocky Mountain National Park

July 07, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

The calendar has rolled into July and the heat has been turned up as well. June saw some odd weather, even for Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado where we can have snow any month of the year at higher elevations. The month started out with cool temps and wet weather. It continued with cool temps and more wet weather. The
n the weather turned to snowy weather. The month finished with temps in the upper 70s and low 80s. A little bit of everything in 30 short days.  Canada_goose_gosling_EP_2019_4Canada_goose_gosling_EP_2019_4Two Canada goose goslings (Branta canadensis) walk up the river bank through the grasses in Estes Park, Colorado.

But the spring animals didn't let a little crazy weather stop them. The first babies I photographed in June were the Canada goose goslings. I had a fun but somewhat scary evening photograph one family in Estes Park along the Big Thompson River. All turned out well. Read the full story on my blog post from June 2.

Elk_EP_2019_10Elk_EP_2019_10An elk calf (Cervus elaphus) folows his mother on his first day of life in Etes Park, Colorado.

Following the goslings, I photographed some elk calves. The first calves of the season were born the last week of May but the calves keep coming through early June. This year seems to be an especially bountiful year of elk calves. It could be the snow in the high country keeping them in the valleys giving the impression of more calves but there were many little ones running around the meadows in the park.

To get a break from photographing wildlife, I took a hike up to Gem Lake. This steep but short hike on the north side of the park in the Lumpy Ridge area has breathtaking views of Estes Valley. Mornings are best here for two reasons: morning light illuminates the valley and Longs Peak in the distance and there are way fewer people on the trail in the early morning. 

Another switch from wildlife photography was to photograph the Milky Way in early June at Sprague Lake. The clear evening offered wonderful views of the star-filled sky away from the lights of the Front Range.  Milky_Way_Sprague_Lake_2019_1Milky_Way_Sprague_Lake_2019_1The Milky Way fills the sky above Sprague Lake on a clear night in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Due to the heavy snowfall in May, especially in the high country, Trail Ridge Road didn't open until June 5, a week and a half later than the typical opening of Memorial Day weekend. And when I took the drive over the top, the drifts exceeding the height of my truck showed why it took so long to clear the road. It is impressive that the road crews remove as much snow as they do. The sunset that night was very impressive as the sky above the Never Summer Range lit up in the full spectrum of the rainbow. The road closed again for another week on June 21, the first day of summer.


The summer snowstorms—there were two storms in two days to start the summer season—covered the park again in a blanket of snow. Now I had the rare opportunity to photograph newborn elk calves in fresh snow.  Elk_RMNP_2019_4Elk_RMNP_2019_4A cow elk (Cervus elaphus) licks her calf's ear after a brief snowstorm on the second day of summer in Endovalley of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The month wrapped up with more landscape photos as I chased sunrises, thanks to the wet weather pattern, and the blooming wild iris, which finally filled the meadow with their purple petals about two weeks later than usual. 

That crazy weather I photographed in June will definitely make for a wonderful wildflower season this month, and hopefully a beautiful season for fall colors in September and October. Iris_Blooms_RMNP_2019_2Iris_Blooms_RMNP_2019_2Moraine Park filled with wild iris after a very wet spring seen on this summer morning as a the first light of the morning hits the peaks of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.


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